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Where there’s smoke there’s an issue

By Staff | Mar 11, 2012

Glenn Gaylord

There was a burning issue on the agenda at last Monday’s Blue Earth City Council meeting, and not because of hot tempers flaring.

For the second meeting in a row, the council discussed a complaint about wood-burning smoke coming from a business in downtown Blue Earth.

Fourth Street resident Mike Enger had filed a formal complaint about the smoke coming from Vossen Auto Sales building located just south of his office and home.

At last month’s meeting, the council formed a special ‘Smoke Committee’ to look into the matter.

That committee met on Monday, Feb. 27, discussed the issue and determined that several steps are in the works that should alleviate the issue in the future.

Enger was not at the special committee meeting of Feb. 27, but he was at Monday’s full council meeting.

“I did not receive a letter about the special committee meeting,” he says. “Obviously I would have been there had I known about the meeting.”

Mayor Rob Hammond reported that he had been informed Enger had been notified by letter of the meeting time and date. But, Enger says he never received it.

“I am disappointed with what has been determined,” Enger says. “I would like the opportunity to tell the whole committee what the issues are.”

Enger added that he could have been contacted when the meeting started and it was noted that he was not there.

“I would like to have been involved in this issue,” he says. “I was the one who brought this complaint forward.”

City councilman Glenn Gaylord, who chaired the special committee, said the issues were discussed and the committee decided the matter was being properly addressed.

“They (Vossens) are changing the type of wood they use,” he says. “They are also adding a ceiling furnace for weekend heating. We felt these measures were adequate.”

The council also noted that the Vossens do have a permit to burn wood, according to the city’s regulations put in place in 2006.

Enger says the smoke has continued to be a nuisance in his home.

“I like a wood-burning campfire, too,” he says, “but if the smoke is blowing in your face you do something about it and not just sit in the smoke.”

Enger started to bring up other points concerning the smoke issue, but Mayor Hammond cut him off, saying they would not get back into the matter without the Vossens present.

A suggestion was to send the matter back to the special smoke committee, but Gaylord said he felt they already had dealt with it.

Councilman John Gartzke agreed.

“I feel we are beating this thing death,” he said.

In other business, the council:

Approved forgiving a $7,500 deferred assessment on property on the east side of Blue Earth that had been a mobile home park.

The requirements for dropping the old assessment had been met, the council was told by City Attorney David Frundt.

The attorney said the property is in the process of being sold and will be developed for residential homes.

Studied the current sewer rates and considered raising them.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey says the rates will need to be raised by 5-percent to cover the costs of projects being proposed.

Met with the owners of property on 10th Street concerning junk on the property and improperly running a scrapping business in a residential area.

The council passed a motion ordering the property cleared and the business operation cease within the next 30 days.

The owners agreed to do so.

If they do not, the order states the city will take the matter to court.